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The staff retention remedies you have to know right now

Written by David Glover on Friday, 18 January 2019. Posted in People

As business owners, one of the biggest headaches can be caused by employee recruitment. David Glover, managing director of Caremark, explains how improving staff retention can be one of the best medicines

The staff retention remedies you have to know right now

Many people go into business ownership not realising they have to be the HR manager as well as the bookkeeper, sales person and candlestick maker. And recruitment can take up a huge amount of your time if you aren’t careful. 

By working in service industries like social care, retail and hospitality, you’ll find staff turnover can be much greater than other sectors. According to the British Chambers of Commerce, the percentage of services firms finding it difficult to fill vacancies has risen to an all-time high to almost 75% of companies. This means you could be trapped in a perpetual cycle of recruitment. So, how can you slow it down?

At Caremark, we’re in one of those sectors where we see above the UK average employee turnover rate of 15% where, according to the latest Skills for Care survey, turnover in domiciliary care is 37.4%. Roughly around half of our care workers see their job as a long-term career and the other half think of care work as a stop-gap. To improve staff retention rates, we’ve had to deliver a combination of messages, training and benefits. 

Here are the top things found to have the greatest impact on reducing staff turnover that should work in any franchise.

Firstly, it’s important to remember that throwing money at a problem won’t solve it. Yes, you can ensure you offer competitive salaries or hourly rates of pay but people value so many other things over money when it comes to their job. Staff turnover rates are intrinsically linked to emotional wellbeing. A study at the University of Warwick found companies that invest in employee support and satisfaction tend to succeed in generating happier workers. In fact, at Google, staff satisfaction rose by 37% as a result of those initiatives, suggesting financial incentives aren’t enough to make workers happy and, subsequently, highly-productive loyal employees. 

To ensure high retention rates, employee engagement is the name of the game. It may sound time-consuming but regularly assessing staff satisfaction can engender a transparent environment and allow issues to be tackled swiftly. Start by ascertaining how engaged your staff are and work on how you can bring them together. You will gain a greater dynamic of understanding between people holding different roles and better communication often leads to a happier workforce. For instance, during 2018, we started a culture campaign to reach every part of Caremark and ensure everyone feels part of our team. Importantly, we listened to our staff rather than management just declaring the state of play. Following on from that, you can delve deeper into creating employee satisfaction by ensuring a thorough training programme. This can improve retention in two ways. Many people like to live by rules and follow habits, so for them, training gives standards to meet and processes to follow. For those people who never considered the role a long-term opportunity, it professionalises the job and they begin to think of it as a career.

A research project by Middlesex University’s Institute for Work-based Learning found 74% of UK workers felt they were not reaching their potential and wished they’d received more job training. Whichever group your employees sit within, you’ll improve standards and retention by offering more training opportunities. Add into the mix a buddy system or mentorship programme and the positive trajectory continues.

Finally, introducing a system of recognition for outstanding achievement builds on the first two steps. This really doesn’t have to cost much. We don’t use shiny trophies or financial rewards but our staff enjoy the formal appreciation they receive. You can get managers to put forward people each week or month for recognition but we also take recommendations from other staff and clients.

When certificates for employee of the month are awarded, take photos and share across the business – you could use a WhatsApp group, closed Facebook group or newsletter. Explaining the reasons behind the award gives everyone a heightened standard to reach for. All of our awards are achievable, they’re not just about sales targets. They’re awarded for exemplary customer service, acts of kindness or, perhaps, suggesting a more effective and dignified manner of facilitating personal care. 

Whilst not all staff turnover is bad, when you consider that, according to a study by the Society for Human Resource Management, employers will often spend six to nine months of an employee’s salary locating and training a replacement, it really does pay to keep staff turnover to a minimum. 

About the Author

David Glover

David Glover is Caremark’s managing director and the bfa forum chair for London and the south east region.

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